The new M4 CSL is a 543 horsepower track junkie weighing 3,640 pounds, having shed the weight of a rather hefty passenger through clever engineering and hardware upgrades. For those of you who care deeply about the Nürburgring times, the new BMW M4 CSL’s 7:20.2 result puts it just between a Ferrari 488 GTB and a 991 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. That’s not too shabby for a front-engine coupe that costs a lot less. Still, it’s far more interesting to see how BMW managed to create its most hardcore M3/M4 special edition yet.
In the spirit of the “Competition, Sport, Lightweight” moniker, an evolution of the “Coupé, Sport, Lightweight” badge of the original 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL, the 6.7-pound M4 CSL’s power-to-weight ratio for each horsepower equates to a 0-60mph jump in 3.6 seconds, while top speed is limited to 191mph.
It’s hard to find an unnecessary 240 pounds in an already performance-oriented road car. However, by making the CSL a two-seater fitted only with M Carbon full-bucket seats, BMW was able to immediately shave 99 pounds. Next are chassis modifications, including standard M carbon-ceramic brakes (15.7-inch front and 15-inch rear), forged alloy wheels (19-inch front and 20-inch rear). rear, finished in matte black), and lighter springs and spacers combine for another 46 pounds less. A minimalist approach to sound insulation meant 33 pounds, while additional CFRP components inside and out saved a total of 24 pounds. The modified BMW grille, along with different taillights, no floor mats and automatic climate control have shed eight pounds, and the titanium rear muffler is nine pounds lighter than the standard M4 exhaust system.
While the M4 Competition comes with a CFRP roof panel, the M4 CSL takes it a step further with a “double-bubble” CFRP roof, a carbon fiber hood (three pounds lighter than an aluminum one), as well as a CFRP trunk lid that saves a substantial 15 plus pounds over the competition M4’s aluminum piece. The trunk lid features a ducktail spoiler, and there’s an integrated diffuser in the rear apron also in CFRP, much like the CSL’s mirror caps. To show off this composite extravagance, the CSL’s hood features two unpainted channels extending in line with the modified grille. These are even edged in red, just to make sure you spot all the aero.
Running around the contours of its elongated side sills and splitter, red accents are designed to go perfectly with BMW’s new optional Frozen Brooklyn Gray metallic paint. However, you can also choose your M4 CSL in standard Alpine White or Black Sapphire Metallic, leading to color options that include Grey, White or Black. BMW M 50 Year emblems are standard on the bonnet, boot lid and wheel covers. These are reminiscent of the blue/purple/red logo first seen on BMW’s touring cars in 1973, and countless base BMWs since. BMW even changed its model badging for the CSL, this time using black surfaces with a red outline.
BMW Laserlight headlights are standard and the angular daytime running lights illuminate yellow rather than white. Meanwhile, the taillights feature technology making its production car debut. I’ll let BMW explain that one:
While all light functions use LEDs, the glass covers are woven with intricate threads of light that are illuminated using laser technology, bringing a vibrant structure to the surface of the taillights and creating a light signature distinctive recognizable from afar after dark. The arrangement of the three wires, parallel to each other on the inner part of the light clusters and overlapping in the outer area, creates a visually stunning interpretation of BMW’s characteristic L-shaped taillight contour. In addition, the illuminated “BMW Laser” lettering on the light covers hints at the innovative lighting technology below the surface.
Woven light threads struck by lasers! Take that, Audi.
The M4 CSL uses stiffer engine and transmission mounts, along with a double-jointed strut front axle and five-link rear axle. It comes with adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers, variable-ratio electromechanical M Servotronic steering and an M-specific version of the integrated braking system, which offers two-way adjustable pedal feel.
Model-specific camber adjustments via forged front axle swivel bearing, new shock absorbers, auxiliary springs and anti-roll bars improve cornering, while ride height compared to the M4 Competition has been reduced 0.3 inch. On the rear axle, four additional zero-play ball joints replace the rubber suspension arm mounts on both the axle subframe and the sides of the wheel carrier, lowering the secondary spring rates. The rear axle subframe has a rigid connection to the body without any flexible rubber elements. This you will feel above a hump.
The M4 CSL rolls on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires measuring 275/35 ZR19 front and 285/30 ZR rear, and its traction control system has five new settings for track use. While Stages 1-5 are the same as in the M4 Competition, Stages 6-10 are primarily for circuit use. BMW says the intervention thresholds are set extremely high in Stages 6 and 7, which are designed for riding on a dry track with tires at optimum temperature. On the other hand, if the tires are cold or too hot, or if the track is damp or wet, the pilots can engage stages 8 to 10, which gradually lower the thresholds of intervention.
Engine and gearbox
It develops 543 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and a maximum torque of 479 lb-ft from 2,750 rpm to 5,950 rpm. To get an extra 40 horsepower from the twin-turbocharged 3.0 six-cylinder, BMW tweaked the management software to increase boost pressure from 24.7 psi in the M4 Competition to 30.5 psi in the CSL. The engine mount spring rates – which are set at 580 N/mm on the left side and 900 N/mm on the right in the BMW M4 Competition – have both been increased to 1,000 N/mm. Meanwhile, the drivetrain mounts are 12% stiffer. With the upgraded M Steptronic transmission, the CSL will accelerate to 120mph in 10.5 seconds, and if you slam on the throttle, the eight-speed ZF unit will even reduce unwanted engine braking when the car is pushed hard.
More importantly, the CSL’s lightweight titanium muffler features two electrically operated flaps to give this special edition a distinctive engine note at the touch of a button.
For your $141,000, the M4 CSL gets a CFRP center console, along with comfort features like a leather-cushioned armrest and wireless charging tray. The Alcantara steering wheel comes with a red center marker in the 12 o’clock position, carbon fiber inlays on all three spokes and CFRP paddle shifters. In front of these, the pair of bucket seats at your service is just as Leicht.
Created for this model, the M Carbon full bucket seats offer extremely high lateral support, and not much else. The backrest angle is fixed and the seat height can only be adjusted in a workshop using a three-level screw linkage. Fore and aft adjustments are made manually using a lever located on the front edge of the seat. Headrests can be removed for track use when driver and passenger are wearing helmets. Seat surfaces and backrests are upholstered in black Merino leather, while the headrests have red Alcantara inserts. Contrasting stitching in M colors on the seat bolsters and seat belts is a matter of course.
If you don’t like the sound of that, heated M Carbon bucket seats with full power adjustment are available as an option at no cost. However, these seats are only 21 pounds lighter than the standard BMW M4 Competition seats, which probably makes them slower than a Ferrari 488 GTB around the Nordschleife. The storage area behind the seats offers space for two helmets, as it should.
Happy birthday BMW M GmbH, it’s already been a hell of a half century, and the M4 CSL seems appropriate.
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